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Delhi High Court seeks opinion from Attorney General over sovereign immunity
The Delhi High Court on the plea of sovereign immunity raised by the state has asked for the opinion of the Attorney General as to in how many cases, the state has taken or raised the plea of “sovereign immunity” in which state claim immunity for its tortious acts and denies compensation to the aggrieved party. It would be pertinent to mention that the doctrine of sovereign immunity is based on the Common Law principle borrowed from the British Jurisprudence that the King commits no wrong and that he cannot be guilty of personal negligence or misconduct, and as such cannot be responsible for the negligence or misconduct of his servants. Another aspect of this doctrine was that it was an attribute of sovereignty that a State cannot be sued in its own courts without its consent.
 

During the hearing of the Motor Accident Claim case in the Delhi High Court, the Hon’ble Justice Mr. J.R. Middha issued the direction to the Attorney General. This was a case of motor accident in which an Air Force Vehicle was involved and the state has raised the plea of “Sovereign immunity” and contended they should be absolved from liability to pay compensation to the victim party on the principle of “sovereign immunity”. In fact, state representing the Air Force has appealed in the High Court against the order of lower court in which the lower court has ordered the Air Force to pay the victim party a compensation of Rs. 4,75, 000 (Four Lakhs and Seventy Four Thousands). The state appealed against the said order of the lower court in the Delhi High Court. On 22nd May, 1999, one Ram Kumar Giri along with his family was going to Faridabad by Tata Sumo vehicle, which met accident with an Air Force Vehicle. Ram Kumar Giri succumbed to the accident and died.
 
 
The victim party was represented by the law firm, Hazen Legal Associates and Mr. Neeraj Aaroa, advocate has successfully argued at length before the Delhi High Court, the dichotomy between sovereign and non-sovereign functions citing leading judgments of Apex Courts and various High Courts and made a forceful contention before the Delhi High Court that the doctrine of sovereign immunity has no application so far as claims for compensation under the Motor Vehicles Act are concerned.
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